I am greatly indebted to Miss Brown for inviting me to contribute a series of guest blogs for her website, the only condition being that they must be CP-related (but of course!). I love writing, especially about CP, so my huge thanks to Miss Brown, with whom I regularly share wonderful times indulging in our mutual love of CP.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter (@andy6red) will know from my avi, header and tweets that my particular ‘fetish’ is the cane. What you will not know is that over the last 20 years I have spent many hours researching the history of the cane as a means of discipline in homes, schools and judicially in both the UK and in many other countries. The material I’ve collected now stands at many hundreds of pages, way too big to publish in full. Additionally, given the material is taken from books and websites, there would be copyright issues to consider. However, there are some wonderful stories within the material, and these will feature significantly in these blog posts.One of the difficulties when making my collection was distinguishing between fact and fiction. So much CP/BDSM writing centres on people’s imagination and fantasies. I have no problem with fantasies, we all have them, but the essential purpose of my research was to build a factual account of the use of the cane from the late 19th century through to the latter part of the 20th. Consequently finding mentions and accounts within non-CP sources such as autobiographies and newspapers was especially valuable.
For starters, let’s think about the cane itself – something I do a lot! Along with many other devotees I regard it as the Queen of disciplinary implements, with an aura that sets it apart from all others. Why the Queen and not the King? That’s simple to answer. As a heterosexual male CP is an aspect of my sexuality, thus in my mind the cane is female, not least because it is an extension of the woman using it. A former play partner used to refer to cane strokes as her kisses. A caning, properly administered, is an expression of a mutual desire for pain and pleasure, of the caner’s skill and enthusiasm, and of her care for me.
Placing the cane as the supreme CP implement is due in no small part to the inherent properties of rattan, of which there are over 200 varieties. Strictly speaking rattan is not a cane at all, it is a reed. Densely packed fibres run through the length of each stem, and it is these that provide such strength and flexibility. In use rattan acts like a whip, unlike bamboo, which ironically is a cane (botanically), but is hollow, stiff, brittle and totally unsuitable for CP use since it can snap, with the danger of its razor-sharp edges causing serious injury. Confusing rattan and bamboo, as still happens even within CP circles, irks me hugely! Because it is a natural product, every rattan cane is unique, which I believe adds to its allure. It is why I have no time for ‘canes’ made from delrin or any of the similar acetates. Why settle for plastic roses when you can have the beautiful blooms of nature?
Among cane connoisseurs there is a perennial debate about thin and whippy or thick and thuddy. We each have our own preference. But which hurts more? I guess the short answer is the one being used on you at the moment! However, a more definitive answer is impossible, and all we can say confidently is that the sensation is different. The thinner the cane the higher its pitch as it cuts the air, the sharper its sting and the more it is likely to cut the skin when used with sufficient force. Thicker canes are less sharp but have a deeper impact, more likely to bruise than cut. Additionally, canes of the dragon variety, in which the fibres are even more densely packed than kooboo (the most commonly-used variety for punishment canes) create a more intense effect with a powerful combination of sting and penetration. The length of the rod is also a factor. The cane arcs in flight, with the tip ‘catching up’ a millisecond after the lower part of the rod has landed. It has been estimated that the tip can be travelling at a speed of up to 200 m.p.h when it lands; no wonder it hurts! The longer the cane the greater its capacity to arc and whip. It also makes it somewhat harder to maintain accuracy, though specialists such as Miss Brown consistently manage to do so, as you will know if you’ve visited her study!
It is the unique qualities of the rattan cane that account for its popularity as a disciplinary implement and why it became the punishment of choice in English schools for almost a century. I’ll refer more to this story in greater detail in future blogs. For now, however, let me return to the theme of the cane as the Queen of CP implements. From their outset and throughout the succeeding century schools used a range of punishments – lines, detentions, loss of privileges and ‘lesser’ corporal punishments such as spanking or a rap of the ruler across the fingers. Certainly by the 1950’s – my own school years – the cane had mostly been taken out of the classroom and into the Headteacher’s study. Its use was reserved for when more serious misbehaviour had taken place. It was this that helped create its aura. A visit to the Headmaster’s / Headmistress’ office hung over us like the sword of Damocles because you knew what it would almost certainly involve. With the exception of expulsion the cane was the ‘ultimate’ punishment.
A corollary of that was the kudos gained by the recipient. Yes, the cane’s presence acted as a deterrent to misbehaviour but still we had a high regard for those who had dared to be naughty enough to receive it. Canings in my junior school were a very rare event but I remember when a girl in my class was caught trespassing in the stock room, for which the Headmistress caned her, she was regarded as a hero and became the centre of attention that day as we asked the usual questions – how many? how much did it hurt? did you cry? and so on. It occurs to me that maybe that sense of kudos remains an element in the adult CP scene. There is no particular merit in being able to take an extensive caning. We all have our own desires and limits and that’s absolutely fine, but one element of a CP session is the sense of achievement that results, whatever our own particular level. Miss Brown’s “Well done” and congratulatory embrace is a wonderful and welcome finale.
Finally for this blog, I regard the sight and sounds of the cane as things of beauty, as is fitting for a Queen! The mere sight of that slender rod produces feelings of excitement and interest. Seeing it in the hands of an expert disciplinarian adds feelings of nervous anticipation. Over 20 years ago I met a Domme in New York. A few weeks later she moved to London and invited me to her house. I sat in the garden with her and her partner as we got to know each other. Aware of my particular interest she sat with a cane in her hands and on her lap as we talked. It wasn’t used that day (but was, profusely, over the next couple of years) but that sight was the most amazing ‘tease’ and enticement. For my part I especially love the look of crook-handled canes, no doubt because they speak of the traditional school-cane. The sound of the cane is also very special – that magnificent, high-pitched swishing whine as it cuts the air is unparalleled. It is not for nothing that our punishers often make a few practice swishes before the real action begins, thereby increasing the pit of anticipation in our stomach. And let’s not forget the stunningly distinctive marks it leaves, wonderful tramline welts to enjoy over succeeding days.
I must stop. I think I need a cold shower after writing this! Thank you for reading, and watch out for more in due course.
Andrew Lines, February 2019.